The court official said the alleged Israeli spy entered Egypt and posed as a foreign journalist shortly after the beginning of the protests on Jan. 25. The official was speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters.
He said the investigation showed the suspect spent most of his time in Tahrir square, the center of the uprising, and approached protesters. The official said prosecutors suspect he paid protesters to cause friction with the military and to foment Muslim-Christian tensions. Some protesters reported him to the Egyptian intelligence agency.
The official said the suspect was put under surveillance and was photographed in the low-income neighborhood of Imbaba, where Coptic Christians and Muslims, led by ultraconservative Salafi Muslims, clashed. Fifteen people were killed and a church was set on fire.
During the 18 days of protests that led to Mubarak’s departure, activists who were detained by security said they were asked if they were trained by Israel. Since Mubarak’s ouster, Egypt’s military rulers have often warned against “foreign” attempts to destabilize the country.
The suspect was trying to recruit the young people to commit treason against Cairo during the popular protests in the Egyptian capital’s Liberation Square, Reuters reported.
“He was there on a daily basis inciting youths towards sectarian strife. He was distributing money to some of them,” said a judiciary source, adding that he would try to provoke the potential recruits into fighting the Egyptian armed forces.
The arrest was enabled by the youths, who would be approached by the suspect.
Earlier in the year, a member of Israeli General Staff Reconnaissance Unit, Sayeret Matkal, was arrested in Egypt amid massive anti-government protests.
The Egyptians launched the revolution against the previous pro-Israeli regime in January, putting an end to the 30-year-long rule of President Hosni Mubarak.
Since a military council took over from Mubarak, there has been internal pressure to cancel or alter a contract under which Egypt sells natural gas to Israel on very low rates . Critics charge the price is too low, as the Agreement to sell the natural Gas was signed in the Mubarak Era, in which Mubarak and his cronies took bribes to seal the deal.
After the revolution, the Egyptian protesters rallied outside the Israeli embassy in the capital, setting fire to the Israeli flag and urging the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador Yitzhak Levanon.